Former lightweight champion Eduard Folayang is determined to put on a spectacular show for the Filipino fans in Manila on January 31st regardless of the identity of his opponent

The Baguio City native was scheduled to square off with Pakistan’s Ahmed Mujtaba in the co-main event of ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’ but he will now battle Pieter Buist of the Netherlands at the 20,000 capacity Mall of Asia Arena instead.

Although he was the final stretch of his training camp when he learned the news that Buist is stepping in for Mujtaba, Folayang revealed that after intense preparation he is ready to face anyone,

“The changes were unexpected, but that is one of the natures of this sport. It really happens. There are always unexpected things. Of course, the motivation is there. It does not change,” he stated.

“I have competed against the best that the division has to offer. We have intense training sessions and our focus is always there. There are adjustments because he’s a new opponent, but I am confident that my team and I can figure this out the right way,” Folayang added.

Different style 

Previously expecting to face a grappler in the shape of Mujtaba, Folayang says that he tweaked his game plan and shuffled his sparring partners after discovering he would be facing Buist. The Dutchman is a lethal striker who is expected to have the height and reach advantage on fight night,

“He’s a talented athlete, we can see it in his record and his fights. There are a lot of things we need to look at during training sessions and he’ll have a height and reach advantage as well. We have to adjust and study his strengths and weaknesses,” Folayang said.

“I have to find a way to close the distance and utilize his weakness. It might be challenging, but this is where our ability to adjust will be tested. I have to show my flexibility as a professional athlete,” he continued.

Buist registered back-to-back wins in 2019. In his first bout under the promotion’s banner, he won via second-round technical knockout against Kota Shimoishi at ONE: ‘Warriors of Light’ last May.

He went the distance in his last outing against Antonio Caruso at ONE: ‘Dawn of Valor’ last October with Buist triumphing by way of unanimous decision.

Always ready 

Team Lakay lynchpin Mark Sangiao is not too worried about the opposition whom Folayang has to deal with, believing that his pupil’s experience will spell the difference.

“It’s a different game plan, we know the style of Mujtaba, and Buist has a different style. So we’ll be adjusting for a bit. As a striker, it’s tough facing someone taller than you, he’ll have his range, but we’re used to it. Eduard is used to facing taller opponents that are strikers. I think it won’t be an issue,” Sangiao explained.

“Eduard is always ready. Right now, we’re just watching the matches of Pieter and trying to look at holes we can maximize in our game plan,” the coach further disclosed.

On paper, it may look like Folayang finds himself facing a difficult challenge.  But the Filipino superstar believes he will rise to the occasion just like he normally does,

“I will do my best to win. It won’t be easy to reach the top once more, but I am willing to face any obstacle that I’ll tackle along the way. Regardless of my opponent, expect the best Eduard Folayang on January 31st.”